Chris Van Allsburg has created a modern myth to explain how an “Indian Summer” often follows the first days of autumn. Farmer Bailey runs into something on the road one late summer day. He thinks it’s probably a deer. When the farmer investigates, he finds an injured man wearing leather overalls. The Stranger is mute and has lost his memory in the accident. The Baileys take him in while he recuperates. But one summer’s day, the Stranger finds that his breath is cold, not warm. He’s mesmerized by migrating geese and finds the color of green leaves unappealing. Could the stranger really be Jack Frost? The man soon departs the farm, leaving a message etched in the window’s frost. And every year, autumn comes a week later to Farmer Bailey’s homestead. Van Allsburg’s illustrations are fascinating and eerie, with rich colors and ominous shadows. There’s a nostalgic feel to the illustrations, as if the story is taking place in the forties. While younger children may not understand the idea of Jack Frost yet, it’s still a lovely family read-aloud for all ages. Try leaving your own mysterious messages for your family when an early frost decorates your windows.
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